Newell and the Guv’nah - John Bel Edwards

Newell Normand
December 13, 2017 - 4:09 pm

Governor John Bel Edwards was nice enough to stop by our studio while he was in the neighborhood. Here are some of the highlights of our conversation.

  • Newell: I'm as optimistic as I can be. I always try to start the year thinking the New Year will be better than the past year, and I think we've got a lot of good things in place. I saw some encouraging numbers about the film industry in Louisiana. We're diversifying our economy.
  • Gov. Edwards on the fiscal cliff: I want people to understand what it is. In previous years, we had issues, because revenue was not coming in as forecast. That is not the problem today. In fact, we have a lot of momentum in our state; things are stable at the moment. The reason we have a cliff is that many of the revenue measures we enacted in 2015 and 2016 were temporary. I'm not looking for a tax increase in terms of generating net new revenue. I am trying to stabilize it by replacing revenue that is falling off the books with a new source.
  • Gov. Edwards on the 1 cent sales tax expiring: The size of the problem is $1.1 billion. $900 million of that is the penny. It was enacted as a temporary measure, and we have the highest combined state and local sales tax in the country. I don't think it's good to be an outlier of any tax type.
  • Gov. Edwards: I know we're going to fix the problem. It's a question of whether we fix it in February, when we should…or whether we go into a session in March.
  • Gov. Edwards: The $1.1 billion in revenue can only be cut from about $3.4 billion in discretionary state funding general expenditures. The rest of the budget is off limits. The Constitution puts it off limits. So you end up with health care and higher education, and nobody wants those cut.
  • Newell: Budgetary flexibility has always been a challenge for every governor and legislature. You can continue to kick this can down the road, but my view has always been credible leadership equates to making tough decisions.
  • Gov. Edwards: We will never be the state we aspire to be, if we don't improve educational outcomes. I'm not talking about spending more money with higher education; I'm talking about trying to stabilize it. It's kind of sad when the best you've done in a decade is not cut. But, it is helpful to higher education and to our students, especially our families, if we can maintain our investment in TOPS, maintain our investment in higher education…so that all the opportunity available to our kids in Louisiana should be to afford them the opportunity to stay in Louisiana.

Take a listen to my whole chat with Governor John Bel Edwards below.

Governor John Bel Edwards Live in Studio!

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